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Symantec (SYMC) yesterday announced an agreement to acquire Altiris (ATRS), which makes “lifecycle management” software products used to keep track of corporate IT assets, for $33 a share in cash, or about $830 million.

Altiris shares are higher this morning, of course; but Symantec shares are sagging. And the early read from the Street is that they kind of wish Symantec had left Altiris alone.

Daniel Ives, an analyst with Friedman, Billings, Ramsey, termed the deal “the right acquisition at the wrong time.” Ives wrote in a research note:

While the purchase price (roughly 3.3x 2007 Street revenue) is fair, in our opinion, and in line with other security software acquisitions, we believe the timing of this acquisition is not ideal. With SYMC just coming off a very disappointing December quarter, coupled with weak guidance, we believe now is the time to get SYMC’s own house in order, not to start acquiring more technologies in tangential product areas…We believe another large acquisition at this juncture is a tough pill for investors to swallow. We maintain our Market Perform rating and $18 price target.

Ranjini Chandirakanthan, an analyst with ThinkEquity, this morning downgrades Symantec to Source of Funds from Accumulate. He writes:

The Altiris acquisition adds too much execution risk when combined with the company’s cost reduction program and the ERP consolidation, in our view. In the long term, we are cautious about Microsoft’s (MSFT) threat to Symantec’s consumer and enterprise security products. We believe the Altiris acquisition is an important way to combat the threat of Microsoft; however, we cannot recommend Symantec’s stock due to the integration risks associated with the acquisition and the limited upside opportunities.

His price target on the stock is $16.

This morning, Symantec is down 37 cents at $17.40; Altiris is up $5.58 at $32.72.

SYMC vs. ATRS 1-yr chart

symc chart

Source: Symantec: Shares Slump on Altiris Deal